For anyone who has been involved in web hosting for any amount of time you have no doubt been asked what is the difference between cPanel and Plesk. Someone may think that since both platforms are popular and they are both capable of providing their hosting clients access to many functions, that there are few differences between them. Although they are indeed similar in many ways, there are some differences.
cPanel has been in business since 1996. The company is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and it supports a wide range of Unix operating systems such as Red Hat Linux, CentOS, and Free BSD. cPanel has become so popular that it has an active developer community; which means there is an abundance of software available to run on it. Many web hosts insist upon cPanel due to its community support. Support is the key, and cPanel support, especially with BuycPanel.com is excellent.
Plesk was first released in 2003, and following a number of organizational changes, is now known as Parallels, Inc. Perhaps one of the biggest differences between cPanel and Plesk is that Plesk not only supports many of the popular Unix operating systems, it also supports Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008.
How cPanel and Plesk compare with each other is both a matter of features and of personal opinion. The reason we say personal opinion is that it can be difficult to switch from cPanel to Plesk and vice versa once, you have already learned one. This is primarily due to the major differences between the two user interfaces (UI). Both panels also have a loyal following and it can be difficult to transform opinions.
cPanel is very popular with companies that offer shared, VPS, and even dedicated hosting. This is due to cPanel being the simplest panel for new webmasters to learn and it has some very powerful features that allow the hosts great flexibility in managing their accounts.
As we mentioned earlier, Plesk is the only one of the two panels that is capable of operating in a Windows environment. There are some differences in the account and security models. There are also some subtle differences in terminology. For example, where cPanel refers to a Cron job, Plesk calls it a Scheduled Task. An autoresponder in cPanel is Auto-reply in Plesk.
Why would someone choose one panel over the other? The answer lies somewhere in the features you want for your particular server environment. It also lies in what you want to offer your clients. As a general rule of thumb, if you operate a Windows environment, the answer may be Plesk. We say maybe since there is a Plesk alternative known as Enkompass, which is a cPanel product. If you operate in a Unix environment by using many of the Linux packages, then cPanel is the preferred choice of the majority of web hosts.